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The Topography of Tears by Rose-Lynn Fisher
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The Topography of Tears

by Rose-Lynn Fisher

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This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Does a tear shed while chopping onions look different from a tear of happiness?

Are my tears of grief the same as my tears of gratitude?


Artist and photographer Rose-Lynn Fisher here presents dozens of photographs of the patterns created when the proteins, minerals and water of tears dry onto slides and are captured through an optical microscope and camera. The black-and-white images are fascinating and varied, often calling to mind the patterns captured in aerial photography, and they’re beautifully published on smooth paper in a pleasing volume with French flaps. And yet, I’m disappointed in the book.

I’m enthusiastic of the Bellevue Literary Press and its mission to present material “at the intersection of the arts and sciences.” I was somewhat aware of the research into differences in tear composition based on emotional state, and was eager to see those differences here. But to be clear: this collection is art, not science. There is no analysis or comparison, only short photo captions -- a few of which are descriptive (for example, the expected “Tears of grief” and “Onion tears”), but most of which are confounding even when approached as poetry (for example, “Now pivotal” and “Old mistakes under a new sky”). More frustrating is Fisher’s note that she wanders each slide “in search of a ‘region of interest’ and then photograph[s] it.” For me, that removed so much context that I had trouble appreciating even the subjective art. ( )
  DetailMuse | Apr 23, 2017 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Fisher's approach is to subjectively call out the beauty in one of the simplest but most common experiences of our lives. She could have merely looked at tears from a scientific angle and it would have been clutching at sand, but instead she celebrates the mystery of our humanity in these photographs. It is astounding how different each image is. Fisher's photo titles connect with each piece so well that the viewer easily finds themselves engaging in an emotional and philosophical response to what can only be an abstract image. These photographs share a story, a journey, that is just as much the author's as the viewer's--I hope to share this beautiful collection of art with many others who cross paths with me. ( )
  mandy42990 | Apr 21, 2017 |
An interesting book with a novel take on tears. The photos are beautiful. ( )
  HeatherMS | Apr 8, 2017 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
This is a very interesting book. It gives us a very up close look at tears, something that we don't really pay attention to even if the tears are our own. Who knew (except the author) that tears can be work of art, this book will make you think about how art surrounds us even when we don't notice it.
  CryBel | Apr 7, 2017 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Science and art have been symbiotic since humans first painted their hand prints on cave walls. Fisher attempted that same relationship in her book “The Topography of Tears”, but she unfortunately falls short. Basically, a picture book containing about 100 microscope photos of monochrome dried tears, the book offers little in science and not much more as literature. OK, the pictures are a bit interesting in a random sort of way, and could possibly be used as a sort of Rorschach test ( I see faces on some graphs and several others look like street maps of suburban developments. ) , still it is difficult for me to get past the fact that these photos are just desiccated pre-mucus. Perhaps spectral imaging or color staining or filtering would have been more fascinating, highlighting the various limpids, skin cells, minerals and bacteria.

So, if you might enjoy viewing dried tears while contemplating happy and sad thoughts, this book is for you. I am happy that I received the book free from Library Thing. I give it two stars.

4/7/2017 ( )
  Paulmb | Apr 7, 2017 |
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